Thanks Giving

Sermon Summary
This message is set around Luke’s story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and poured and then anointed His feet with a perfume oil. This took place at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. The woman was trying to show her gratitude for the forgiveness she had received from Jesus at an earlier time. The Pharisee was disgusted by the whole incident, but Jesus used it to showcase a picture of God’s amazing grace. So thanks giving is not giving something away to get something, rather, it is giving something in thanks for something already received! The sermon looks at several of the many pictures painted by this story.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Can you give an example of a time when you wanted to give something to someone to say thanks because they had given something or done something for you that made a difference in your life? Explain.

2. The women in our story had lived a sinful life and it is widely believed that she had been a prostitute. However, Jesus had forgiven her and changed her heart. He had treated her with a respect she had never before been given by a man.  Jesus had given to her rather than take from her! In your own words, how does this help explain her emotional behavior and her extravagant “thanks giving” gift to Jesus? The following verses from The Book of Psalms might give some helpful insights on her former condition and what God had done for her...  
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,

3. Simon, on the other hand was not impressed. He judged the woman to still be unclean and he judged Jesus to be a false prophet. Jesus stated that the woman’s sins, which were many, had been forgiven, and implied that Simon's sins, which may have appeared to be less, had not been. Look at the parable Jesus told to Simon and discuss the implications.
Luke 7:41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
(Simon then answers and Jesus gives His interpretation.
Luke 7:43  Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
Luke 7:44  Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
Luke 7:45  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
Luke 7:46  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
Luke 7:47  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Luke 7:48  Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."


Full Sermon Notes

 

Aren't you thankful the darkness trembles at the voice of our God? Aren't you grateful that time is in His hands, and that He stands strong and mighty for all ages? He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega! With thankful hearts, let's sing that chorus again...

Thank You Lord for being such a great and mighty God! Thank You for Your willingness to love a sinner like me! Thank You for all you have given to me. Materially, relationally, and spiritually! As we reflect today on an inspiring story from Your Word, help us to understand why it is so important to have thanks giving all the time and especially at Christmas time. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and anoint the preaching of these words as I pray you anointed the preparation of these words! I love you and thank You in advance for the work You will do in each of our lives. Please shine through me today and let your light be so bright that I become an unseen vessel through which You do Your work! It is in the sweet name of Jesus that I pray and believe!

I know we just finished the Thanksgiving holidays, but I don't think the only time for thanks giving, should be at Thanksgiving! I think we should also have thanks giving at Christmas. And someone might say, "But by Christmas, I'm tired of turkey and want "Honey baked Ham!" To which I would say, "You just missed my whole point!" And I guess that's not a totally bad thing, because I've got a whole sermon to help clear things up for you! You see it's like this…when we think of Thanksgiving, we think of giving thanks! Giving thanks for all we have been given! Right? We are thankful for family, friends, our homes, our country, our material blessings, especially the bountiful spread of food most of us have before us, and hopefully for the many spiritual blessings we have as well.

But as I thought about the word Thanksgiving, I put a little space between thanks and giving and saw something and I think it is significant. Instead of just giving thanks, maybe we should do a little "thanks giving!" In other words, because I'm so thankful, I've decided to do a little giving to show my thanks!
Thanks giving!
And what better time to get into the spirit of giving than at Christmas. Now someone out there might be thinking, "Oh, ok, I see where you're going with this!"
Let me ask you to hear me out before you jump to conclusions. Let's turn in God's Word to our story today. Luke 7:36 - 50.

While you turn there, I'll give you a little background. This story is one of the most poignant stories in all of the Bible when it comes to giving thanks or expressing thanks. It's a story with a lot of back story, or interesting background, if you like. All four gospels tell a story of a woman anointing Jesus with oil. Matthew and Mark tell a story almost identical to each other and name the location as Simon the leper's home.

John's story is similar, but gives no location, However, John actually names the woman as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead. Luke's story was probably a different incident. It takes place at the home of a Pharisee also named Simon and the lady is unnamed. This is the story we will hear and hopefully see today, and though the woman's name is not mentioned, we discover that her reputation preceded her. You've heard the old saying "a picture paints a thousand words?" Well this story paints a thousand pictures. Pictures we need to see today! Without further a due, I present to you Luke 7:36-50, a story of Thanks Giving!
We'll look at it picture by picture. And the first picture is???

The Meal

Luke 7:36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.

They didn't sit in chairs at a table like us, they reclined on small couch like cushions. They would typically leave the door open during meals like this so others could stop by and engage in the conversations. It was a cultural thing. So it was not unusual for an uninvited guest to just show up and stand around behind the main guest. But picture this…The Pharisee's prided themselves in ritual cleanliness when all of a sudden an unclean, unwanted guest shows up. They were reclining at the table...

Luke 7:37a When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house,

The Woman

The fact this lady is said to have lived a sinful life and from the comments Simon the Pharisee made about her, many scholars have concluded this woman had been a prostitute. But something had changed! Scholars believe she had met Jesus and He had forgiven her before this meal. For her to have the boldness to enter a Pharisee's home, knowing the kind of reception she would receive, shows something of her motivation. She didn't care. Her focus was dead set on giving thanks to Jesus for her new life! No matter what others thought, she was no longer defined by her old way of life. Jesus had changed all of that. But something we should not miss here. The very fact she had lived that sinful way of life, would indicate she was not a woman of great means, so the gift she brought was probably her life savings. Picture the gift...

 The Gift

Luke 7:37b she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,

Evidently this jar of perfume or ointment was worth 300 denarii or a little over a years worth of salary for the average Jew back then. Probably an oil imported from India. So this was a very sacrificial gift for this woman to give. But why would she give such an extravagant gift? It had to do with her new heart!

The Heart

Luke 7:38a and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.

Why was she crying? She knew the pain and humiliation of her old life was a thing of the past! Her heart had been changed! Her desires had been changed! Her purpose in life had been changed! And it was all because of Jesus! These were tears of relief and tears of thanks giving!

It reminds me of Psalm 107:1-15. It could be the testimony of this woman...

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,

And what was her gift of thanks? It was so much more than just perfume. It was an outward action that signified an inward change of heart!

 The Act of Thanks

Luke 7:38b Then she wiped them (His feet) with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

First of all, let's just all agree on this one thing. A woman's hair is a pretty important thing to her. Not many women would consider using their hair to wash someones feet.

And even fewer would consider kissing someones feet. Back in Biblical times, it was an extreme act of respect to kiss someones feet. And then she takes this perfume, which could have been sold to help support her while she looked for a new line of work, and she pours it on His feet. Why would she do this? Well, Jesus had taken care of her spiritual need for forgiveness, so there was not reason to think He wouldn't take care of her physical need for sustenance! But there's something I didn't read in any of the commentaries. Something we shouldn't overlook in the picture painted by this act of thanks. This fancy perfume had been a tool of her old trade. and she was giving everything to Jesus. She wouldn't need that perfume anymore.

She was burying that old way of life, and Jesus was going to take that old way of life to the cross and take the punishment for her! What a beautiful picture. But this story has another picture or two. There was the...

 The Self-appointed Judge

Luke 7:39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

There's always those who are willing to stand in judgement of others. Simon had judged the woman to be an unclean sinner, and Jesus to be a false prophet! I'm thinking, "Who made this guy the judge?" Here's the problem with men playing judge. You can't see the heart! Simon had no way of realizing that Jesus had changed this lady's heart and had cleansed her of her sin. And Simon was about to find out how wrong he was about Jesus being a false prophet…Listen as Jesus uses a parable to paint a picture for Simon and the rest of the folks around the table...

The Parable Picture

Luke 7:40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

Before we get to the parable, did you notice it says Jesus answered Simon? Simon had asked his question to himself, but Jesus answered him. Hmmm….false prophet? I don't think so. Jesus did that kind of thing a bunch, because He could and it helped keep people honest. Ok, the parable picture...

Luke 7:41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Do you think Simon realizes he is one of the main characters in the parable? The next picture in our story is stunning, it is a picture of..

The Spiritual Blindness of Simon

Luke 7:44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

Dr. Malcolm O. Tolbert, one of my favorite theologians, put it this way...

"Jesus turns to the woman, bringing her by this gesture into the circle. "Do you see this woman?" No! Simon had not seen her. He had classified her and dismissed her as one beneath his notice. He had depersonalized her by thinking of her as being just like all others of her ilk. But on every count the woman is shown to be Simon's superior. She has a much greater capacity for love and gratitude, based, as Jesus teaches, on her capacity to receive."

Broadman Commentary Volume 9, page 70, column two paragraph 2.

Her greater capacity to receive what? Forgiveness, cleansing, salvation, and the love of God. Why was her capacity so much greater? She knew she was a sinner and in need of a Savior. Simon the Pharisee, thought he had his act together. He didn't need a Savior.

It occurred to me the other day that there are two kinds of Pharisees today. Religious and non-religious.
Religious Pharisees say, "I'm a good person, therefore, God loves me!"
Non-religious Pharisees say, "I'm a good person, therefore, I don't need God!"

And Jesus continues to paint a very high definition picture of the difference between the unnamed woman, and Simon the Pharisee.

Luke 7:45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.

You see, Simon had not even given Jesus the common courtesy of offering water to clean the dust off Jesus' feet at the door, no kiss on the cheek, or the customary bit of oil on the head to designate an honored guest. Remember, Simon had invited Jesus. What was his motive? I don't know. But the woman had not stopped "thanks giving" from the time Jesus had arrived at the house. You see, thanks giving is giving something to show thanks. It's doing something to show thanks. It's not giving in order to get something, it's giving because you got something and you want to show thanks! It's like with our salvation. It's a gift we don't deserve, we can't earn, we can't buy, so we live our lives to show our gratitude for such an amazing gift!!

We live our lives in a way that gives thanks and we do things to give thanks and we sometimes thanks give! In other words we give something away to show our thanks!!! That's what this lady did and it's what Simon the Pharisee did not do! The next picture is a master piece!!

The Forgiveness Factor

Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

When translating the Greek language, you have to depend on the context of the verse and the story. "for she loved much," can also be translated "so she loved much!" This brings this into harmony with the parable Jesus had just told. The one who had been forgiven so much loved so much!

I've had people ask me how I can love those who don't love me. And I tell them it may not be easy, but it is simple. Jesus forgave me of my sins against Him, how could I be so arrogant to turn around and not forgive someone who has sinned against me?
Let's read the last three verses of our text...

Luke 7:48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The Faith Factor

Jesus then makes it very clear: The woman was not saved by the good works she had done that day. She was not saved by her Thanks Giving gift to Jesus, but was in fact saved because of her faith in the gift of forgiveness that Jesus had given her and that He would pay for with His life, not to long from then on an old rugged cross! The pictures are clear. The question is, as you look at the pictures painted by our story, who do you most relate to? It's important to know. And if you've not received the gift of forgiveness, then you won't be doing to much thanks giving. Why?

Because thanks giving is a response to a gift received. Thanks giving is not done to earn brownie points with God. It's done out of the overflow of gratitude and thanksgiving you have for Jesus setting you free from a life of slavery to sin. Just like He did for the woman in our story.  

I'm going to ask our worship band to make their way to the platform. While they do, I just want to share with you a practical way you could do some Thanks Giving this Christmas Season.

Message ends here.